Monday, May 31, 2010
Toilet Seats and Searching for Dinner: the Ironies of Everyday Life
Sometimes little kindnesses take convoluted routes. Take Tuesday evening when I offered my wife dinner out. Tuesday is not our usual night for restaurants, but I knew she was upset about the toilet seat and although I was weary, I felt she might be more so.
Perhaps I should explain about the toilet seat first. We had a toilet seat, one which had been around for a number of years, that had gotten loose on one side. My wife found this annoying and about two weeks ago she purchased a new toilet seat. It cost $24. Nothing overly fancy, I mean it's just a toilet seat and we weren't putting on airs about it. It was plastic, solid white with some scalloped edges to fancy it up.
I installed the new and unceremoniously deposited the old faithful, but slightly cockeyed, seat in the trash. Life seemed just fine with our shiny new plastic toilet seat brightening up the bath.
But then it went loose on the left side (as you face it). On lifting the seat I could see the two screws in the flap that held the seat to the lid had come loose. I got a screwdriver and placed the screws back against the holes and tightened them. This repair held for perhaps 15 seconds. Well, we lived with a wobble before so we would survive.
A day or so later I discovered both the left and right latches were hanging down with all the screws out of the holes. I retrieved my screwdriver once more and tighten all four screws. The two on the left refused to take hold even temporarily. The two on the right screwed back in, but a few hours later gave up any pretense of being fasteners and became derelict in their duty. We now had a free floating toilet seat.
My wife was very upset about this. I can't blame her. There are some functions of life which should not include a thrill ride.
Now Tuesday afternoon when I got home from work my wife's little apple car was gone. She was out grocery shopping and didn't get back until after four-thirty. Being out and about in the current atmosphere of the Christmas shopping season had her looking a bit strained and thus my little dinner out offer of kindness. (I suppose there is some irony in going out to dinner because of shopping for groceries.)
As I was feeling weary myself, I thought where is it easy to go? My choice was Dead Presidents. This restaurant is along a street in the Italian sector of Wilmington. It has friendly servers and large booths that provide nice privacy for dinner conversation. In line with its name, the portraits of all previous Presidents of the United States who are deceased line its walls. When a President dies, they have a little ceremony and add his picture. Reagan was the last honoree to join their decor.
However, I always like to give preference to my wife and so I asked; "Do you have any preference?' She said, "Barnabys". Barnabys is on our regular circuit of eateries. It isn't very far, but once you cross over into Pennsylvania and turn off the back road we use onto the main route to Barnabys you hit traffic.
Not just traffic, but a long slow snake of it in both directions. It is a stop and go affair for the few miles, which thus seem like far more, you must travel.
I then said, "How about Dead Presidents?"
She acquiesced, but I though there was a hesitation. We went down our hill in the direction of Dead Presidents, but at the next cross street I turned back toward Barnabys. My wife then insisted Dead Presidents was fine, in fact, preferable, so we began our search for dinner with a ride around the block.
I went down I-95, turned into Wilmington and with not too much rush hour traffic quickly got to the street where the restaurant was. We turned into their parking lot, which was extremely empty. There were two cars, one near the front and one near the back. I parked and we walked around to the entry on the front. It was dark and a sign on the door read: "Temporarily closed due to major plumbing problem."
So it is back on the road, and my wife says, "How about Kid Shelleens?" I had been thinking the same thing since it wasn't far from the first restaurant. So I managed the left turn at a non-traffic-light intersection to get on the narrow back streets that wend to this restaurant. Unfortunately, one look at the crowd and the full parking lot told us to keep going.
I am now headed back toward downtown Wilmington and suggest, if we can find a parking place, the Washington Street Ale House. We turn up Washington Street and into the parking lot just past the restaurant and straight on through to the street behind because this lot is really full, cars are practically parked on top of cars.
It is proceeding later into the evening and the later it gets the more crowded eateries around here also get. I then suggest Stanleys, which is actually the nearest restaurant of all to our house. We sometimes eat there, but it doesn't have the intimate seating arrangement we prefer. Too often you feel you are sharing a table with perfect strangers because some tables and booths are so close to each other. But it has good food and is close to home and I am getting hungry.
We arrive at Stanleys and although the lot is fairly crowded, there are a number of parking spaces. As we are walking across the macadam to the doors a number of people exit the restaurant. These are followed by a few more and my wife says, "Good, come on, some more leave."
Well, some more do. We think nothing of it. We get to the door and there is a sign. "Due to our Employee Christmas Party, we are closing early tonight. The kitchen closes at 6:30."
There is no sense going in. We go back to the car and drive away, this time in the direction of Barnabys. As we are poking along in Pennsylvania traffic I say, "The irony is, I really didn't want to do much driving tonight."
Before we come to Barnabys, we pass Henneseys, another of our regular places and it looks as if we can get in there. In fact, I got a space right by the front door. We went in and there were empty tables and booths. "I hope this doesn't mean they're closing up for a Christmas Party, too,"I whisper to my wife.
They aren't. We get a cozy booth and have a nice meal, although it costs more than I originally planned to spend. But man, by now I was really hungry.
Oh, the toilet seat -- the next morning I found some larger screws and drilled them into the holes. So far it seems to be holding. It's only a day so maybe a brief victory, but brief is better than total capitulation I suppose.